Record: 33-49 (11th in the West)
Season Ended: No Playoff Appearance
Dennis Smith, Jr. (PG)
Added multiple rookie free agents
Josh McRoberts (PF)
Projected Starters (Last year averages)
PG: Dennis Smith, Jr. (Rookie)
SG: Seth Curry (13 pts, 3 reb, 3 ast)
SF: Wes Matthews (14 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast)
PF: Harrison Barnes (19 pts, 5 reb, 2 ast)
C: Dirk Nowitzki (14 pts, 7 reb, 2 ast)
Nerlens Noel, Yogi Ferrell, JJ Barea, Devin Harris, Dwight Powell
Major Story lines
Dennis Smith, Jr. The future – After years of failure in the draft (and in the offseason) the Mavericks finally appear to have gotten a future All-Star type player in Smith. He was a revelation in the summer league and continues to make highlights with his layup line dunks. The Mavericks haven’t see a point guard with this type of athleticism and for the first time it feels like there may be a suitable replacement for Dirk as the face of the franchise.
Dirk’s last year? – Dirk moves into year 20 of his career and though Carlisle seems poised to start him, it is clear that he has lost yet another step. I personally would like to see Dirk preserved and coming off of the bench (and this may happen eventually) but as it stands he will be starting. With Dennis Smith becoming a fan (and bandwagon) favorite, Harrison Barnes looking to take the next step, the kid from his hometown Maxi Kleber becoming a Mav and the roundness of year 20 one has to believe this could be the year.
Nerlens Noel betting on himself – While Dennis Smith was a solid distraction for most of the offseason the other major story was the Nerlens Noel deal. Noel wanted a max deal and wasn’t getting it in Philly which allowed the Mavericks to steal him. So of course he goes into this offseason expecting the Mavs to pay up. However the Mavs offered him 17 mil (fair in my opinion) instead of the max and Noel refuses to sign. Instead he signs the much smaller qualifying offer with the hope that his performance this season earns him the max contract he desires.
Mike Predictions (37 – 45) (11th in the West)
- Harrison Barnes averages 23 PPG – Watching the preseason it is clear that Harrison has accepted his role as the leader of the team. He’s stepping up with confidence, attacking the rim, and taking pull up jumpers. Getting 23 points per game should be a breeeeeeeze!
- Dirk retires if he averages less than 10 PPG – This hurts to type but I do believe that Dirk is eyeing retirement. As the reigns slip further and further from his grasp and his body recovers more and more slowly I think Dirk will start to lose the enjoyment of the game. If he ends up having a solid role this year and doesn’t end up resting a lot of games or having multiple games where he doesn’t or barely scores I can see him stepping away. I’m using 10 ppg as my barometer because the only other year he was below 10 was his rookie year. Last year was his second worst season at 14 ppg.
Josh Predictions (40-42) (10th in the West)
- Dennis Smith Jr. is the ROY runner-up – Won’t say here who my pick to win Rookie of the Year is, but I will say I almost leaned heavily towards Smith. He is getting played early and often (even more-so now that Seth Curry is out indefinitely with a leg injury). DSJ is like a mix of Damien Lillard and John Wall, and I think he’ll be the second leading scorer and second leader in assists. The only reason I think he doesn’t win ROY honors is due to the overwhelming hype of another PG playing in a slightly bigger market (hint hint). 15
- The Mavs crack the league’s top 15 in PPG – Ok this one is a bit crazy, considering Dallas finished dead last this past season in points per game (97.9) — the only team not to crack triple digit points. However, I think the fast tempo and dynamic playmaking that Smith, Jr. will bring, along with Harrison Barnes’ expected maturation as a better scorer, and Nerlens Noel’s desire to play his way into a max contract will all contribute to a much better scoring team. Also, when looking at the 5 teams that allowed the most points per game last season, 4 are in the west (Houston, Denver, LA Lakers, and Phoenix). These teams make up 15 of Dallas’ regular season games (18%) so at the very least, the offense will have quite a few easy nights.